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Monthly Archives: January 2017

This is the third post on what we saw at the Vitra Campus.

The Vitra Design Museum is one of the publicly accessible building on the Campus. A major retrospective – “Alexander Girard – A Designer’s Universe” was installed when we visited. Much of what is written below came from their web site which is very informative.

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The Vitra Design Museum was founded in 1989 by the company Vitra.

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It is housed in a building by Frank Gehry (who else ?). Next to it is a gallery also by Gehry, where we saw an exhibition about the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong (see that post here).

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The work of the Vitra Design Museum is based on its collection, which encompasses not only key objects of design history, but also the estates of several important figures (including Charles & Ray Eames, George Nelson, and Verner Panton).

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It is dedicated to the research and presentation of design, past and present, and examines design’s relationship to architecture, art and everyday culture.

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Originally envisioned as a private collector’s museum, major internationally acclaimed exhibitions were presented later, including retrospectives on Charles and Ray Eames, Frank Lloyd Wright and Luis Barragán.

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It developed its own product lines to finance its activities and an independent publishing house was established.

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Alexander Girard (1907-1993) is renowned for its fabric designs and collection of folk art.

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In 1951, he was appointed as the director of Herman Miller’s textile department.

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He recognized an impulse in folk art, based on a universal human heritage of patterns, motifs and design techniques that transcends the limits of  time and place.

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Girard donated over a 100,000 pieces of folk art to the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A new wing was built at the museum—which Girard designed—to house the collection.

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Vitra is licensed to make a range of products bearing his graphic designs as well as a series of collectible wooden dolls.

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Check out the web site of the Girard Studio to see more of his works.

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VitraHaus is Vitra’s flagship store on the Campus. One can see, touch, compare, test, and buy all of Vitra’s home and office furniture offerings here. We visited the Campus last year and this is the second of four posts. See the Campus overview here. Most of what is written below came from their web site which is very informative.

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Designed to display the furniture brand’s Home Collection, the five-storey building consists of stacked volumes with pitched roofs covered in charcoal stucco.

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The company commissioned Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron in 2006 to design the VitraHaus.

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Each gabled end is glazed and cantilevers outwards up to five metres, creating the impression of a pile of houses.

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A lift takes visitors to the fourth storey, where we started the circular tour. On that day, it was a space completed in different degrees of pink.

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Internally, spiral staircases connect the intersecting interiors.

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The furniture showrooms are seamless as one moves from one area to the next.

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The lower floor is dedicated to office furniture.

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In addition to the display area for the company’s products, there is an exhibition space for the chair collection of the Vitra Design Museum.

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These collectible miniatures are everywhere in this building.

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Technicolor Eames.

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One can order a custom-made Eames chair at the Lounge Chair Atelier. The choice of every component can be made by the customer.

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There is also the Vitra Design Museum Shop and a café with an outdoor terrace.

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There was so much to see and buy in this building.

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According to their website, the VitraHaus has a daytime view and a reversed night time view. During the day, one looks out onto the green landscape, but when darkness falls, the illuminated interior of the building glows from within, while its physical structure fades out. The glazed gable ends turn into display cases that shine across the Vitra Campus.

We did not stay late enough to see it.

Last year, IT and I went to visit the Vitra Campus – located just across the Swiss-German border in Weil am Rhein. Much of what is written below came from their web site which is very informative. They also have a great drone video of the campus here.

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The Vitra Campus comprises a public and a private area. In the public space, you will find the Vitra Design Museum, the VitraHaus and the Vitra Silde Tower. The private area, where the production facilities are located, can only be accessed as part of an architectural tour (on which these photos were taken).

VitraHaus (see later post)

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In 1981, a fire destroyed the majority of the production facilities used by Vitra. The resulting reconstruction provided an opportunity to produce various buildings with renowned architects. The company decided to built its own firehouse. The Vitra Fire Station was the first full-scale work by Zaha Hadid ever to be realised. See later post.

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Nicholas Grimshaw was chosen as the first architect to rebuild the Campus. As the insurance funds only covered a six-month interruption in production, Grimshaw designed a factory constructed from simple prefabricated metal elements.

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The horizontally striated façade made of corrugated sheet metal bears witness to the industrial purpose of the building as well as the technological competence of the company.

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The Vitra Design Museum building was designed by the American architect Frank Gehry as his first project in Europe. See later post about this museum.

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Designed by the Japanese architectural office SANAA, the Vitrashop Factory Building was completed in 2012. The building has a nearly circular footprint and consists of two adjoining semi-circular concrete shells.

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The flowing character of the building’s exterior is created by a white curtain façade made of undulating acrylic panels.

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Although the production hall is larger than any of the other factory buildings on the Vitra Campus, the façade gives it a light, almost floating appearance.

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The Schaudepot is the second building on campus by the architects Herzog & de Meuron. The new structure was not yet opened when we visited but opened later in 2016. It combines the simple appearance of an industrial building with the complex requirements of a walk-in museum repository.

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Balancing Tools by Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen

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The sculpture was commissioned by the children of Vitra company founder Willi Fehlbaum as a gift for his seventieth birthday. It depicts the three main tools employed by upholsters who play a central role in the production of furniture.

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Dome by Richard Buckminster Fuller

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Petrol Station. Jean Prouvé was an important engineer, architect and designer of the post-war era. He developed furniture and buildings based on carefully constructed metal structures produced in his own metalworking shop.

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The Conference Pavilion by Tadao Ando was the architect’s first work outside Japan.

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The centrepiece of the building consists of a sunken courtyard that seems to conceal the surrounding environment and lends the building an almost monastic tranquillity and intimacy.

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Posts to come will cover the VitraHaus, Design Museum and the firehouse.

Dear Readers, Happy New Year !

This is our second post of 2017. It is almost a tradition of this blog – the first two posts take a look back at some of the places we visited last year. I(Chris) had the good fortune of having visited the capitals of 6 countries – Japan, Italy, Russia, Korea, Spain and France – in 2016, some for work reasons.

Click on links, where provided to read more about the places of interest. There are usually a series of related posts per location, you can discover them easily in the calendar at the bottom of the post.

Places visited in second half of 2016 are here.

In reverse chronological order:

Prado Madrid, Spain, June

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Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, June

2016-year-end-12

Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain, June

2016-year-end-13

Champions League Final, Milan, June

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Vitra campus firehouse, Weil am Rhein, April

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Basel, Switzerland, April

2016-year-end-22

St Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, March

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Sistine Chapel, Vatican, March

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Tokyo, Japan, February

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Yakushima, Japan, February

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Kagoshima, Japan, February

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Let’s see where 2017 will take us.

Dear Readers, Happy New Year !

This is our first post of 2017. It is almost a tradition of this blog – the first two posts take a look back at some of the places we visited last year.

Click on links, where provided to read more about the places of interest. There are usually a series of related posts per location, you can discover them easily in the calendar at the bottom of the post.

In reverse chronological order:

Hong Kong, December

2016-year-end-30

Los Angeles, California, December

2016-year-end-31

Bologna, Italy, December

2016-year-end-20

Zurich zoo, Switzerland, October

2016-year-end-19

Paris, September

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Vilars, Switzerland, August

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Seoul, South Korea, August

2016-year-end-16

Vevey, Switzerland, August

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Cailier chocolate museum, Switzerland, August

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Verbier, Switzerland, July

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More to come in Part 2.